Why I Encourage My Children to Be the Best

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I have done the math. I have crunched the numbers. I know the chances are slim.


You’re probably wondering what I am talking about. Let me share.

I have written a few times on The Dad Tax about my son Isaiah and his baseball skills.

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Isaiah is 8 years old. He has above average skills on the diamond…for an 8-year-old. This isn’t a dad bragging about his son. This is feedback I have received from other coaches, including one coach who has worked with players like Charlie Morton.

Typically, he plays middle infield unless I feel he is lacking focus and then I move him to the outfield. Focus is one thing I stress but one thing he often lacks.  And yes I am one of his coaches.  I am also probably harder on him than any of the other kids on my team.

He prefers Shortstop. One of his favorite players (now retired) is Derek Jeter.

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Other trainers and coaches have said the following about him:

• Very athletic
• Great range (needed at shortstop)
• Positive attitude
• Good teammate
• Always gives 100%
• Works hard
• Loves the game
• Competitive

Most of these are requirements in my book. I often award the game ball to the player who has the best attitude and best effort for a given game. That’s exactly what I did during the first game of Fall Ball.

What I Want for Isaiah

He loves baseball almost as much as me at this point. He is light-years ahead of where I was at the age of 8. When I was 8 there were no real organized baseball leagues where I lived.

I would absolutely love for him to make it to Major League Baseball.

The Reality

I know it is a big long shot to make it to MLB. A High School senior has a .5 percent chance of being drafted. That’s 1 in 200.

Being drafted does not mean you make it to the bigs either. That just means a team is interested and you will play in their minor league system.

Your odds improve slightly if you play college ball. 11 in 100 are drafted, just over 10%.

What I would ultimately like is for Isaiah to receive a scholarship to play baseball, get his college degree and be drafted. The first part of this sentence is a lot more likely, especially given his academic abilities so far.



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Waiting for Judge to throw one to him. #NYY #JediJudge

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The Next Level

I learned not to long ago that to make it to the next level of your baseball career you must be one of the best.

Let me explain.

Isaiah currently plays little league. This year was the first year he played at a level that had pitching required. They used a machine (fewer kids get hit by a pitch this way).

He’s been hitting pitching for a few years, so this was not a big jump for him.

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Next year he must move up again. He will face live pitching next year. To this point, I have been the only person to pitch to him.

He also must try out for the first time next year. I have seen some of the kids that play at this level. I don’t believe trying out will be an issue but there’s always that nagging feeling.

What I learned is to move up from level to level you must be one of the best 2 players on a team.

Cybermetrics?  Or Just the Odds?

There are 3 baseball leagues in my town. Each league probably has approximately 60 kids playing baseball in the different age brackets.

For Isaiah’s age bracket that would mean there are approximately 180 kids playing baseball in my town.

There are also 3 high schools in my town (sensing a theme here). Each high school team can have 20 players on the varsity team. If there is a junior varsity team then that’s another 20 players.

Let’s focus on just varsity because these are the kids most likely to get college scholarships.

That means in Meriden there will be 60 varsity players. This is 1/3 of the total number of kids playing at Isaiah’s level now.

We are not sure what we are doing for high school yet, he’s only in 3rd grade right now. We would like him to go to a private school. Baseball may help with this but that only highlights my point further.

One of the 3 high schools in my town is a technical school. He probably won’t go to this school but again we don’t know for sure. That means the number is now cut to 40.

He will be assigned a school based on where we live. That means the number is now 20.

20 out of 180 kids. That means 1 in 9 kids makes it to the varsity team.

The same is true of college-level baseball. 1 or 2 kids on a high school varsity team might make it to college level baseball.

As I said earlier just over 10% of college players get drafted.

Of those that are drafted 1 or 2 on a minor league team might get called up on average.

Do you see where I am going with this?

It’s a long, tough road filled with hard work, dedication, pain, sacrifice, and skill.

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Drive it Home (Pun Intended)

I tell Isaiah to be able to progress to the next level he must be one of the 2 best players on the field for that given game, every game. He must be one of the two best in training, in practice and in every aspect of the game.

I remind him all the time.

Most of the time he is not. He’s 8 and just wants to have fun. I completely understand. I am an adult and just want to have fun.

I reminded him again on Tuesday (our first Fall Ball game) that he had to be one of the two best on the field, for both teams.

Tuesday he clearly was.

He played shortstop as usual. He hustled his, well you know what, off. He fielded great. He made a few decision-making mistakes but that comes with learning the game.

His offense was good. He still needs to work on keeping his eye on the ball, but he was 2 for 4 and showed a little power for the first time in 2018.

Isaiah is small for his age. A proud moment this summer was being told he had finally crossed the 50-pound mark (barely). He’s not a big eater. So, any sign of power is a bonus.

He was focused. Intensely focused.

Every time he came up to bat the other team coaches warned their players.

“He’s a good hitter” “Watch Out” “Be Ready”

Some of the coaches have seen him before. They know what to expect.

He was clearly one of the two best players on the field Tuesday.

I did not award him the game ball. I have my reasons which I explained to him. He completely understands.

I did tell him that he was one of the two best players on the field for both teams that day.

Why Do You Care?

You’re probably thinking to yourself by now why is he sharing this with me? Why do I care that his son has above average baseball skills?

I don’t expect you to care. Here’s why I am sharing.

First, I am proud of his effort and dedication. So naturally, I want to share.

More importantly, the point I want to make is as parents we need to encourage our children to strive for excellence.

Izzy is my 4-year-old daughter. She started gymnastics last year. She was so good that they moved her up to the next level (5-8-year-old group, she was 3 at the time). She left other kids in her age group who have been taking gymnastics even longer behind. There were 5-year old’s in her original group. She surpassed them in a few short months.




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I’ve been trying to tell you it’s a way of life in the Gombar household. #baseballislife #BASEBALL #HappyMonday

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Isaiah excels at reading. He has been reading at a 6-8 grade level for over a year now. He is at or above grade level in every subject. We continue to push him.

When he started swimming lessons we switched him from one school to another because they did not challenge him enough. He was swimming on his own within a few weeks after the switch.

Children learn fast.

Children don’t comprehend limitations. Their limitations are put in place by parents and by their own ability.

Encourage them to be one of the two best on the field, in the gymnasium, in the swimming pool, in the classroom.

Encourage your children to strive for excellence.

Your child is not going to be good at everything. Isaiah also plays the piano. He’s OK at best. We continue to have him go to lessons because playing an instrument helps children with focus. Not just on the instrument but on everything.

We continue to encourage him to get better.

Now, before you tell me that my children have too many activities….

They also have plenty of downtime. Playtime is also learning time. We know that.

We balance it out so that they don’t crash and burn.

They get plenty of sleep as well. We understand the importance of rest and recovery.

We will continue to encourage our children’s pursuit of excellence. We will continue to encourage our children to be one of the two best no matter what they do.  They may excel.  The may fail.  They will try.

why i encourage my children to be the best

35 replies
    • sgombar
      sgombar says:

      Throughout my 4 seasons, I have had girls on my team. I find that most times they are the most focused players on the field. Unfortunately, I do not have any girls on my team this fall.

  1. Urmila deven
    Urmila deven says:

    I don’t believe in this that why we should encourage to child to do best every time… the average children are good .. I believe in their happiness not in rank ….

    • sgombar
      sgombar says:

      My children are highly competitive and when they “win” they are happy. You think not encouraging them to be their best is making them happy? I don’t think one correlates to the other.

  2. Kara
    Kara says:

    It’s such a fine balance between wanting our kids to strive for excellence and letting them “just be kids.” I think the expectation of doing the best you can while giving them plenty of room to play, explore and fail helps.

  3. Kathy Mortel
    Kathy Mortel says:

    Even though I’m not a parent myself, I also think that we should encourage children to be the best. It gives them a boost of confidence. Wishing for Isaiah to achieve his goals.

  4. Shaily
    Shaily says:

    Isaiah is very talented and I’m glad as a parent you understand the passions of your child and encourage him to be the best. Izzy too sounds very active and passionate about gymnastics. I wish both of them all the good luck for their future!

  5. Jeff
    Jeff says:

    I absolutely agree we should encourage our children to not only chase big dreams but to strive for the best. Seems to be something lacking from our culture today.

    • sgombar
      sgombar says:

      Our culture rewards everyone today, no matter what. I was talking to a friend of mine who has been working the same job for close to 20 years. He can retire with a full pension at 20 years. He says the newer younger employees feel as though they don’t even have to meet the minimum requirements at work and some of them sleep on the job. This is what not pushing our children to strive for excellence has created.

  6. ThoseGilligans
    ThoseGilligans says:

    I completely agree, I was just thinking on writing on this very subject. Unfortunetly I come from a family that was full of negativity and put downs… I believe those put downs became inner voices for my siblings and I… I hope and pray to raise my children differently. Great post!

    • sgombar
      sgombar says:

      Spin those negativities into positivity. I did not have a father growing up and chose to use that as motivation to be the best father I can be. I am far from perfect but I put 100% into it.

  7. Nikki
    Nikki says:

    I don’t know anything about baseball but if my son were playing I would definitely want him to be the best just as you would like for your son I believe everything will work out for him

  8. Dominique Brooks
    Dominique Brooks says:

    It’s important to encourage children to do the best they can in all that they do. It is a delicate balance between encouraging and pushing too hard but it sounds like you are navigating that well!

  9. mdaisi
    mdaisi says:

    Your son is such a cutie and it’s so nice that he has a dad that encourages him the way that you do! I would also absolutely love for him to make it to Major League Baseball and accomplish his dreams.

  10. pujarin
    pujarin says:

    I enjoyed reading this. Off late we are trying to put our son into a game that he loves. It does take a lot of discipline and passion.

  11. Lana Wariner
    Lana Wariner says:

    1 in 200 is still a good chance. I like how you can tell the great love your have for your children by supporting them with their dream. Every word in your post is full of love, so touchfull!

  12. Olga Zak
    Olga Zak says:

    I agree with you. Your son is such a cutie! It’s important to encourage children not only to achieve their high goals but also to strive to get the best.

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